Whether it’s a picture frame, cabinet, birdhouse, or any project that makes use of smaller nails, the cordless brad nailer will be your best buddy. Since they have a small nose in terms of design, they’re more ideal for delicate DIY projects.
So, how do you choose the best brad nailer out there? Which ones are more suitable for your needs? Read on below – I have a couple of suggested units for you, along with their pros and cons to help you pick.
My overall top pick is the Makita XNB01Z 18V Cordless 2-Inch Brad Nailer, which will drive up to 1,660 nails with a single battery charge (using a separately-sold 5.0Ah 18V LXT battery). It will drive most 18-gauge nails from 5/8 to 2 inches while it has a 110-nail magazine capacity.
When it comes to usability, you can switch between two modes: sequential or contact, depending on whether you’re working on a delicate project or need successive nailing. The tool weighs 7.7 pounds (with a battery) and it also has a depth adjustment dial that doesn’t require tools to set up.
Aside from that, I like that it has a battery gauge to easily let you know when it’s time to charge the unit. Of course, a good brad nailer should have an anti-dry mechanism to avoid shooting blanks and ruining your material when you run out of nails.
A plus point for this brad nailer is the LED light that will be useful in dim work spaces. It also has rubber bumpers to keep both the tool and the wood material from getting scratched.
For more details, read my full Makita XNB01Z review.
Things I Like About This Product: Aside from the anti-dry mechanism and tool-less depth adjustment, it has an LED light, which is useful for dark work areas. It also has rubber bumpers that protect both the tool and the material.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The tool is a little on the heavy side.
The next unit on my list is the Metabo HPT NT1850DES Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, which will also drive 18-gauge nails from 5/8 to 2 inches. It is powered by a 3.0 Ah lithium-ion battery and will drive up to 1,650 nails per charge.
Aside from that, I like that it uses a brushless motor, which will cool down the unit significantly faster than a traditional carbon brush motor. A brushless motor also doesn’t need to have replacement brushes, so it’s nearly maintenance-free.
Just like with my previous pick, this cordless brad nailer also has a tool-less drive depth adjustment, so you’ll find it adaptable to different kinds of materials (or projects, for that matter). It has a convenient switch between sequential and bump-fire (rapid) mode, which will make your DIY job easier.
Because of its air spring drive system, it delivers a power that’s almost akin to a pneumatic tool, even though it’s a cordless unit. Aside from that, its lithium-ion battery is 0.6 pounds lighter and 3/4-inch shorter than a standard battery of its capacity, which will reduce user fatigue.
Things I Like About This Product: The unit has a brushless motor that allows it to run cooler and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. It also has a lightweight battery design and a unique air spring drive system for additional power.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The depth adjustment may require a learning curve to use properly.
For a budget-friendly tool, the Ryobi P320 Airstrike Cordless Brad Nailer is for you. This unit will drive up to 1,700 nails per charge, so it has slightly more driving capacity than my above-mentioned picks. It has a user-friendly adjustment dial for the desired pressure.
Moreover, knowing when it’s time to reload is easy thanks to the low-nail indicator on the tool. Another plus point that I like is the built-in LED light, which is useful in dim work areas. Unlike the previously-mentioned brad nailers, this unit weighs only 5 pounds so even if you add the battery, it’s still significantly lighter in weight.
For better convenience and less downtime, it also has a tool-less jam release to make it easier for you to get jammed nails out. To protect the surface that you’re working on, it also has two non-marring pads. The magazine capacity of this cordless brad nailer is up to 105. With an attached belt clip, you’ll find it handy in difficult situations where only one-handed firing is possible.
Due to its AirStrike Technology, the motor power will be almost similar to that of a pneumatic brad nailer. The drive switch is easy to toggle between sequential or contact firing, depending on your needs.
For more details, read my full Ryobi P320 review.
Things I Like About This Product: It will drive a lot of nails per charge and it has a built-in LED light plus a tool-less jam release.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The unit doesn’t come with a battery.
If you prefer something a little more extra, go for the DeWalt DCN680D1 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit. This unit will be easy to use in the dark due to the LED lights on the tool. Moreover, there’s a tool-less trigger to toggle between contact or sequential mode, whether you’ll need single or rapid firing for your nails.
What I like is the low nail lockout which keeps your material safe from dry firing when you run out of nails. Since it has a brushless motor, it won’t overheat nor is it a hassle to maintain since there are no carbon brushes to replace.
To make the job easier for you (and for you to feel more comfortable when multitasking at work), it has an adjustable ambidextrous belt hook. As well, it has a stall release lever that doesn’t require any tools, so the driver blade is easy to reset during a stall.
I like that it has a tool-less jam release in the event of nail jams. The tool weighs 5.3 pounds and spans 10.3 inches. As it is a kit, it also comes with the 20V MAX battery and charger.
For more details, read my full DeWalt DCN680 review.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a jam release, LED light, adjustable belt hook, and a stall release lever to reduce downtime.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The battery life runs out a little faster than most similar tools.
A great find on my list is the Porter-Cable PCC790LA 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer, which will appeal to you if you’re just looking for a convenient nailer for most DIY crown molding projects. Weighing 5.9 pounds, it has a magazine capacity of 100 nails.
It comes with a 1.5 Ah 20Volt MAX lithium-ion battery so the brad nailer is ready to be used right out of the box. In the event of a jam, it has a tool-less release lever. To make your job hassle-free, it also has a convenient depth adjustment wheel that’s easy to tinker with.
On a single charge, it will fire up to 1,300 18-gauge brad nails (if you use a 4.0 Ah battery). Aside from the jam release, it also has a tool-less stall release lever, which will significantly reduce downtime and frustrations.
Compared to most of our picks above, it has a slightly lighter weight, which will significantly reduce user fatigue. The tool has LED lights that will help illuminate your dim workspace, especially when you’re in corners or the garage at night. It is backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
For more details, read my full Porter-Cable PCC790LA review.
Things I Like About This Product: The brad nailer has a tool-less stall release lever and jam release, which will make the job easier when pulling out jammed nails.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It doesn’t have as much firing and magazine capacity compared to most similar cordless brad nailers.
The Craftsman CMCN618C1 V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit is yet another great unit to consider, which will drive 18-gauge nails at up to 420 per charge. What I like is that it has both a tool-less nail jam and stall release for user convenience.
The cordless brad nailer weighs 5.3 pounds (without the battery) although it has an overmold grip, which will significantly decrease user fatigue. It will hold up to 100 nails in its magazine, which is about the average for most cordless brad nailers out there.
When it comes to tool and motor design, it has an optimal center of gravity so that it will feel comfortable during long usage (such as all-day jobs). Aside from that, it comes with a belt hook to make it more convenient for you to work on different tasks and hold various items along with the brad nailer.
Since this brad nailer comes as a kit, it already comes with a 1.5 Ah lithium-ion battery and its corresponding charger. What’s more, it also already comes with 2-inch and 1-1/4-inch brad nails (100 pieces each) for you to get started.
For more details, read my full Craftsman CMCN618C1 review.
Things I Like About This Product: The tool comes with free brad nails, a battery, and charger, a tool-less nail jam and stall release, and a comfortable over-mold grip.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It doesn’t have a lot of magazine capacity compared to other similar cordless brad nailers.
Equipped with a brushless motor, the Milwaukee 2746-20 M18 FUEL 18 Gauge Brad Nailer will run cooler than most traditional tools and it won’t need as much maintenance due to the lack of carbon brushes. It has zero ramp-up time, which means it will fire up to three nails per second, with no delay between firing and the trigger pull.
For safety, it has a dry fire lockout, which protects your material. Due to its compact size, it will fit in the smallest project areas. Aside from that, it comes with a reversible belt hook for both left-handed and right-handed use. It will take any 18-gauge brad nail with 5/18 to 2-1/8 of fastener size.
The brad nailer comes with three interchangeable tips, as well as a tool-less jam clearing latch. Switching between sequential and contact actuation firing is also a breeze due to its design. The tool weighs 6.3 pounds and is powered by an M18 battery, so it’s a good buy if you previously had Milwaukee tools that use the same battery type.
For more details, read my full Milwaukee 2746-20 review.
Things I Like About This Product: The motor is brushless so it won’t likely overheat and won’t need a carbon brush change. It has a tool-less jam clearing latch and a reversible belt hook. I also like its dry fire lockout, which protects your material.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The nailer is a little on the heavy side compared to similar units.
With a firing speed of 80 nails per minute, the KIMO 20V 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer/Stapler Kit is a good DIY tool that will work for both 18-gauge nails and staples. It will accept 3/4 to 2-inch nails and 3/4 to 1-5/8-inch staples.
The switch between sequential and contact actuation is convenient to toggle while the firing depth is also easily adjustable using a rotation knob at the top. On a single charge of its 2.0 Ah battery, it will fire up to 700 nails. This cordless tool weighs 6 pounds.
For user convenience, it has front-positioned LED lights for working in dim areas. This kit comes with 700 pieces of 18-gauge nails, as well as 300 pieces of 18-gauge crown staples to get you started. It also comes with the 20V 2.0Ah lithium-ion battery, as well as a carrying bag.
Each charge will fire up to 1,400 nails and the unit only needs to be charged between 45 to 60 minutes. It is backed by a 2-year warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: It is a dual-purpose nailer and stapler, so it’s great for multiple projects without the need for another tool. The LED light will be useful for dark working areas and for maintaining accuracy and safety throughout your project.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The jam release feature requires an Allen wrench to use. It also weighs significantly heavier than most cordless brad nailers.
Powered by a 20V MAX 2.0 Ah lithium-ion battery, the Neu Master NTC0023 Rechargeable Nail Gun/Staple Gun is yet another combo tool that allows you to use either brad nails or staples. Due to its spiral drive technology, it delivers a similar power to that of a pneumatic tool.
When it comes to the capacity, it will drive 18-gauge nails from 5/8 to 1-1/4 inches and any 1/4-inch crown staple from 5/8 to 2 inches. Each full charge of the battery will fire up to 1,100 shots. It has a magazine capacity of up to 100 for both nails and staples. There’s also a quick-release mechanism in the case of a nail jam.
To keep your material protected, it comes with a non-marring rubber nose. Additionally, to make you feel more comfortable during a long day’s work, it has an ergonomic handle and an oversized trigger. Added conveniences to the tool include a belt hook and LED lights to illuminate your work in low-light conditions.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a good shot-firing capability (1,100 shots per single charge) and it is also a combination tool that uses either brad nails or staples. There’s a nail jam quick-release mechanism in case of emergencies.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The tool is very much on the heavy side, so it might not be ideal for long hours of use.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Brad Nailers Featured Above
So, how did I pick the brad nailers that I mentioned above? Here’s how I decided, which will help you to choose your preferred unit as well:
Most brad nailers out there have a magazine capacity of 100 to 110 nails. If your cordless brad nailer is also capable of handling staples, then the capacity is usually the same as filling it with nails. Having more capacity for a single magazine for your brad nailer is important if you’re working on a lot of projects around the house.
Aside from that, having more capacity for your brad nailer’s magazine will help to reduce the likelihood of dry firing (explained below). Having dry firing problems is the last thing you’ll want in a project since it will ruin your material, so having a lot of nails in one magazine will save you the trouble of constantly reloading.
If you look around the market, most brad nailers will weigh around 5 to 6 pounds without a battery and 6 to 7 pounds with a battery. If it seems like your cordless brad nailer is too heavy and you were previously using a pneumatic brad nailer, it’s normal to feel that way – pneumatic tools are supposed to be lightweight, after all.
A cordless tool is usually slightly heavier due to the battery onboard. However, even with that slight inconvenience, it saves you the hassle of having to look for an air compressor or dealing with dangling hoses while working on your project.
An LED light on your brad nailer will help a lot when it comes to visibility, especially when working in low-light situations. Whether it’s in a garage, your home, or anywhere else that needs a brad nailer for a delicate nailing job, having an LED light will increase your accuracy.
Aside from that, being better able to see what you’re working on more with an LED light reduces the risk of safety hazards. Most brad nailers on the market today have dual LED lights on both sides for you to see what you are working on.
Dry firing is a common problem that people face when they use a brad nailer. This inconvenience happens when you accidentally fire the nailer when it’s out of nails, resulting in a blank dent that ruins your material.
When you have an anti-dry mechanism or dry lockout feature on your brad nailer, you’ll likely not have this problem, because the tool already stops you from firing. You can’t always see if your cordless brad nailer has nails inside the magazine, especially in dim or dark areas. That’s why it will be handy to have an anti-dry mechanism to avoid ruining your material.
Jam Release Mechanism
Jamming can happen to anyone (and it often does), even experienced users. Although jamming usually roots from ill-fitting nails that are loaded into the magazine, in most cases, it’s because of firing. Most DIY workers recommend rapid firing to reduce jamming, but there are cases when you need to do the one-at-a-time approach, in which jamming is more likely to happen.
That’s why having a jam release mechanism for your brad nailer is essential. There are many kinds out there – some require the use of Allen wrenches or extra tools to activate this mechanism, while others don’t. If you want convenience and one-handed operation, having a tool-less mechanism for the jam release will be great.
When firing your nails onto your target surface, you wouldn’t want to mar the finish, right? That’s why many brad nailers nowadays include rubber bumpers. These bumpers help protect the surface from accidental scratches from your tool.
An example of such a tool is the Makita XNB01Z 18V Cordless 2-Inch Brad Nailer, which has rubber bumpers that protect both the surface that you’re working on and the tool. Another unit that has a similar design is the Neu Master NTC0023 Rechargeable Nail Gun/Staple Gun, which has a non-marring rubber nose.
Driving Capacity per Charge
The majority of the brad nailers on the market have about 500 to 1,500 driving capacity per charge, in which the highest is about 1,700 nails. With that said, it depends on the battery of the unit – a higher capacity will hold a charge longer and thus, will allow you to drive more nails in just one charge.
If you will mostly work on longer projects that require a lot of nails, you’ll need a unit with more driving capacity per charge. Alternatively, you can also contact the manufacturer to ask which higher-capacity batteries are compatible with the unit in question.
No one wants to carry around a heavy brad nailer, and that’s why I’d prefer a unit that has a balanced weight. A bare tool weight of about 5 pounds will do just fine.
When it comes to handling the tool, most brad nailers on the market do have ergonomic grip handles. This will aid in long hours of DIY projects or when you have to hold the nailer in an upright position (such as with crown molding).
A brushless motor is generally preferred because it runs cooler than a traditional carbon brush motor. This enhances the durability of your brad nailer. Aside from that, a brushless motor doesn’t require you to replace any brushes, making it easier to maintain.
Although brushless motors are typically pricier, they’re a better investment in the long run due to the lengthened lifespan of your tool.
Firing Mode Switching
Sequential and contact actuation are the two common firing modes that you will find in a cordless brad nailer. It should be easy for you to trigger and switch between the two firing modes, especially if you’re in a difficult situation. Having these two modes easily accessible means that you have a brad nailer that’s flexible for various jobs.
It helps to know the warranty period of the cordless brad nailer in question. Some companies offer two to three years for their warranty – you should also know what’s covered in the warranty policy so that you’ll have peace of mind for your tool.
Overall, my top choice is the Makita XNB01Z 18V Cordless 2-Inch Brad Nailer, which has an LED light for illuminating dim work areas, as well as an anti-dry mechanism and rubber bumpers for protecting your surface. My runner-up pick is the Metabo HPT NT1850DES Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, which has a brushless motor that allows it to run cooler than most units.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend the Ryobi P320 Airstrike Cordless Brad Nailer, which will drive as much as 1,700 nails on a single charge and also has a jam release. For my premium pick, I chose the DeWalt DCN680D1 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, which has a similar jam release mechanism but also a stall release lever to reduce downtime.
Other considerations in my list are the Porter-Cable PCC790LA 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer and the Craftsman CMCN618C1 V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, both of which are equipped with a tool-less nail jam release mechanism.
Yet another unit with a brushless motor to consider is the Milwaukee 2746-20 M18 FUEL 18 Gauge Brad Nailer. If you want a tool that’s both a nailer and a stapler, you’ll find the KIMO 20V 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer/Stapler Kit and the Neu Master NTC0023 Rechargeable Nail Gun/Staple Gun worth buying.